Barbecue Sauce Base Recipe

BBQ sauce base

Michael Möller / EyeEm / Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 40 servings
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
17 Calories
1g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 40
Amount per serving
Calories 17
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 86mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 45mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Want to make your own barbecue sauce? Then this is the base you need to get started. This recipe will give you a good, thick tomato sauce that you can then add to. Using a few ingredients including, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, and other spices and seasonings, this sauce is simmered on the stove and ready for you to taste and add your special touches to make it your own special bbq sauce or leave as is, whatever you desire.

This homemade bbq sauce base comes together quickly, and there are make so many different variations that can be done from this recipe. You probably have most, if not all, of these ingredients available in your pantry. The advantage of making your own sauce is that you know exactly what is in it, and there are no preservatives or additives. 

Make it up the day you want to use it or prepare it ahead of time. This bbq base will last up to one week in the fridge, simply put it in a glass mason jar with a tight lid. Note that this base does make approximately 2 1/2 cups, so if you need more or less just scale the recipe as desired. 

Slather this sauce on barbecue chicken, ribs, brisket, even steak or burgers. You can also use it on shredded chicken or pulled pork for sandwiches. It's good for dipping fries in, too!


  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

  • 16 ounces tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Sauté chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil in a saucepan. Cook until transparent.

  3. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, paprika, mustard, and Tabasco. Mix well. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.

  4. Reduce heat to low and add tomato sauce and vinegar. Let simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

  5. From here you can add whatever flavor you want: brown sugar, honey, or molasses for a sweet sauce; chiles and cayenne for a hot sauce; or liquid smoke for a hint of smokiness. Be creative with it.


If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with a little water. Just be careful, and add the water in small increments, so you don't thin it out too much.

Recipe Variations

Sweet sauce: Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of honey or molasses

Hot sauce: Add chiles and cayenne pepper, to taste

Smoky sauce: Add 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, or to taste

Liquor addition: 1/4 cup bourbon, or to taste

How to Store

Store this barbecue sauce base in a jar with a tightly closed lid in the refrigerator, where it will keep for one week.

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